Packaging and Closer Look
The Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 we got here came with a Heroes of the Storm box art. If you have played or are playing HotS or Starcraft, I’m very sure you know who the Queen of Blades is. At the back of the box, you can read the highlighted features of the Z170X-Gaming 7 motherboard and some of its specifications. Again, no more “Gigabyte’s eye” logo, instead you get a plain and simple “G1 Gaming” logo.
The package includes a manual, some reading materials, a driver CD, a do not disturb door sign, SATA cables, rear I/O shield with LEDs, SLI bridge, and more. These are the usual suspects you expect to see on a packaging of a gaming motherboard.
The Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 features a nice and clean matte black PCB finish. In addition to the commonly used black and red colors, Gigabyte added white in the color scheme. The color white is primarily used on the motherboard’s shroud and heatsink cover; and this color scheme is present on the Gaming 7, Gaming GT and Gaming G1 motherboards. The Z170X Gaming 7’s PCB is also a bit wider compared to other ATX motherboards, like the Z170X-Gaming 3.
On the upper half portion of the Z170X Gaming 7 motherboard, we see the LGA socket 1151 for Intel’s 6th generation Skylake processors surrounded by a 12 phase digital power design. There are also 4x DDR4 DIMM slots supporting speeds of up to 3866MHz (OC), 4 fan headers, two USB 3.1 headers, power / reset / clear CMOS buttons, ECO and OC buttons, voltage contact points, debug LED, 24-pin motherboard and 6-pin CPU power connectors and one of the two M.2 ports for PCIe SSDs.
Here’s a close up shot of the socket LGA 1151. The pins you see on the socket features 15 micron thick gold plating. In theory, this provides absolute reliability and longevity for the CPU socket overtime, without having any concerns about corroded pins or bad contacts.
There are lots of headers, slots and switches on the lower portion of the Z170X Gaming 7 motherboard. You can see the full list in the specifications table on the first page. I’m going to highlight some of the main features on the lower half portion. There are 3x PCIe slots (one x16, one x8 and one x4) and 3x PCIe X1. There’s also a second M.2 slot located just above the PCIe x8 slot. The rest of the headers, switches and even the Burr Brown OPA2134PA amplifier chip are neatly aligned on the bottom portion of the motherboard.
Look the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 motherboard from its right side, you see three SATA express ports, or 8x SATA 6Gb/s ports. Looks good right? You got quite a number of storage slots including the two M.2 slots, well not quite. You can use all of the SATA (Express) ports on this side. However when you start using one or two of the M.2 slots, some of these ports (or even an entire SATA Express slot) gets disabled. The reason behind this is because they share the same chipset link and bandwidth since the three SATA Express ports and two M.2 ports are controlled by the Intel Chipset. The other two SATA ports are not affected because they as controlled by ASMedia. Refer to the Z170X-Gaming 7’s manual (on page 32) to see which ports becomes unusable depending on the scenario. You can download the manual from Gigabyte’s website.
On the rear I/O portion of the Gaming 7, there’s the PS/2 combo port, 5x USB 3 ports (two are DAC-UP ports), one USB 3.1 port, one Type-C port, an HDMI and DisplayPort, two Gigabit LAN ports (one Intel and one Killer) and audio ports with optical S/PDIF out. If you noticed the video out and audio ports are all gold-plated for durability and probably better signal as well.
Above are more photos of the motherboard from different angles. I have to say, the chipset heatsink design with the G1 Gaming logo looks somewhat cool and is better compared to the ones found on their previous motherboard series. On the next page, let’s see how the Z170X Gaming 7 motherboard looks like without the white shroud and chipset heat sink. Let’s also see how the motherboard looks when the LEDs are fired up, including the rear I/O port shielding.